Hiding answers hurts Boilermakers' union
The Kansas City Star
Disturbing questions about financial decisions made by the international Boilermakers union based in Kansas City, Kan., need answers from the union and federal officials charged with oversight.
Unfortunately, as they have done before, union officials refuse to discuss major concerns roiling their 59,000 members.
It’s also dismaying that the U.S. Department of Labor offers no guidance to the public on the severity of financial issues linked to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers. The labor agency appears to have done too little to hold the union responsible for past problems, making its reticence to talk about current troubles more inexcusable.
The Star’s articles on Sunday raise two main issues:
Did the union look out for the best interests of its members when it bought troubled loans from Brotherhood Bank & Trust, which the union owns? The answer leans in the direction of “no,” based on independent experts interviewed by The Star.
Has the union made appropriate changes in how it operates its pension fund after recommendations were made years ago by the Labor Department? Again, while mum’s the word from union and government officials, the disappointing answer appears to be “no.”
The Star reported that union president Newton B. Jones has tentative plans to discuss some of these issues at a local union meeting in October.
Jones ought to provide his members with a full accounting of why the union bought the bank’s troubled loans, how that decision has financially affected the union and how his organization has reformed its pension system. Meanwhile, the Labor Department would serve the public with a faster resolution of any investigations into the union’s many debatable activities.